If you’re a freelancer or full-time marketing professional looking into how you can turn your expertise into an entrepreneurial venture, you’ve come to the right place.
Building an agency is a good way to scale your marketing know-how and turn it into a profitable business. Whether you’re looking for an additional income source or planning to turn it into your main economic driver, here’s a guide that will show you how to start a digital marketing agency or company.
Evaluate Your Goals And Strengths
To build your agency, you need to start with a strong competency. Ask yourself the following questions:
- What do people often ask me help or advice for?
- What positive feedback do I often receive at work?
- What do I excel at?
- What tasks do others find difficult that I somehow find easier to do?
- (Or) What tasks do others find taxing but I enjoy (or don’t mind) doing?
If you’re planning to start your agency with partners, evaluate your individual competencies and expertise as a group. Once you identify your strengths, you can better understand what you can offer your future clients.
Your vision and values influence your agency’s structure and services. How do you want to contribute to the industry or the world? What does success look like? Work with your team to align. Establishing this early allows you to be intentional in growth and decisions.
Decide Your Offer And Market
After being clear about your values, vision, and competencies, it’s time to inspect the industry that you want to enter. What are the unmet needs that you want to address? Building your agency with this perspective is a good way to ensure demand for your services.
You can use several tools to study your industry. One example is Porter’s Five Forces. This method can help you evaluate the power of the major players in the industry you want to enter, the power of suppliers and buyers, the likelihood of customers switching to other alternatives, and how much new players (such as yourself) can affect anyone’s position.
There are many types of agencies out there. You can start a digital marketing agency, a creative agency, a social media management company, an ad agency, an influencer marketing agency, an SEO agency, and many more. Using your findings to identify gaps you can fill will help you build an agency equipped to compete.
Establish Your Branding
A good grasp of your strengths and values and how you’re positioned compared to your competitors are all vital information when creating your branding.
As a marketing professional, you know how important branding is for a business. It expresses your identity and why you’re your target audience’s best choice. Good branding allows you to form strong connections with customers. You'll be difficult to replace when your offer and edge are clear.
You’ll first want to establish your brand's market positioning when you create your brand. Then, you can proceed to create your agency name, logo, etc., to create a consistent voice and aesthetic throughout all your touch points.
Register Your Business
The process of registering your business will vary depending on where you are. Nevertheless, this is important to establishing legitimacy and making things easier for you in the long run.
Registering your business will require a lot of upfront work. But it also comes with several benefits. It allows you to create business bank accounts, take loans, and hire employees. You’ll also have an official receipt. This will make you more credible to clients and even allow you to accommodate companies who are strict with their financial protocols.
Making sure you’ve ironed out the legal side of your business and being diligent with your taxes can save you from many future headaches.
Build Your Online Presence
Your online presence is how your prospects will verify your legitimacy. So, it’s important to ensure that your website and social channels showcase your brand, services, and all the other things that make you credible and memorable.
Plan your consumer journey and sales funnel. Identify the channels you’ll use to push awareness, consideration, decision, and retention.
For example, you may use Tiktok and social media ads to get eyeballs to your owned channels. Then, populated with enticing reasons why you’re a great agency to work with, they can effectively lead your prospect to the decision stage. A free consultation can help you seal the deal. Once they’re your customers, you can catch up with them from time to time, so you’ll stay on their radar.
Whether or not your agency will work remotely or on-site, an online presence will help you reach a bigger number of prospects so you can grow your business.
Plan & Execute Your Outreach Efforts
With a working website and a fully registered business, it’s time to look for clients. The most effective way to start is through warm contacts.
Share your new venture with your family, friends, and business contacts with a quick elevator pitch, and tell them you’re open to helping them or their contacts out. Chances are, they’ll look at your services and consider availing them themselves or give you referrals.
Once you’ve exhausted your warm contacts, you can start reaching out to cold ones. Cold contacts are prospects you don’t know. You can do this through email or other social channels like LinkedIn.
Executing outreach efforts can be a nerve-wracking experience because of our innate fear of rejection. It will require courage. But if you want to succeed, this will be an important skill to learn.
Deliver Great Work & Document Them
Doing great work is the best way to promote yourself. When you work with clients, be sure that you’re diligent in submitting work even when you’re unsupervised. Communicate and be punctual on meetings and deadlines.
Another thing you shouldn’t neglect is documenting these achievements. Ask your clients for permission to include your output in your agency’s portfolio. If they’re willing, request testimonials you can also put on your website.
Months after you work with clients, consider checking in with them and asking them how your output has helped them with their business. When they report positive results, try to ask for more details if possible and request permission to share it in your channels.
Consistently building your portfolio and collecting testimonials are surefire ways to increase your credibility.
Hire & Delegate
As your business grows, so will your need for additional hands. You may opt to hire full-time employees, part-time, or freelancers. Each has its pros and cons.
Full-time employees offer consistent staffing, while part-time employees may offer more cost savings. When it comes to payroll tax and obligations, they’re also roughly the same. It’ll be a little different when you hire freelancers. Freelancers offer flexibility in terms of cost and scope. You can hire them on an hourly or a per-project basis and only on times when you need their services.
Hiring can be tricky, especially if you’re looking for full-time or part-time employees. Aside from technical proficiency, keep an eye out for soft skills, work ethic, and attitude.
Employees will greatly impact the results you’ll produce as an organization. Take care of them, and they will surely take care of your customers.
Document Your Processes
Documenting your work process may seem like an unnecessary task. But creating documentation for your processes will make them easier to inspect, share, and scale.
Remember that marketing agencies aren’t just hired because of their creative ideas. They’re also hired because of their ability to execute them efficiently.
Your workflow and pipeline will determine how efficiently you can produce quality output. It’ll also show you how ready you are to scale and grow. Using project management tools like Workamajig is a great way to facilitate this. But apart from that, you may also want to evaluate your operations at least every quarter (ideally, after every project) to see what you can optimize.
Network & Keep Learning
You must set aside time to network and sharpen your saw to keep growing. Join communities to surround you with equally passionate individuals. Participate in conversations to meet new people and gain new insights.
Staying updated on trends and best practices will give you an edge over competitors. Widening your network can also increase your referrals, giving you more business opportunities.
Marketing is an ever-evolving industry. To thrive, you have to keep learning and growing as well.
Starting a marketing agency can feel daunting. But done right, it can also be very rewarding and profitable!
Whether you’re venturing alone or doing it with trusted business partners, this experience will test your creativity in marketing, resourcefulness, and entrepreneurial instincts.
Investing in a good marketing project management tool is essential for running a successful digital marketing agency. Workamajig's end to end project management software was built for creative teams, and has everything that your team will need to run successful campaigns and scale agency.